We are not going to go on about Yamaha guitars as an introduction to this Yamaha Storia III Acoustic Guitar Review. If you have read any of our other Yamaha reviews, you will know our opinions. Basically, it is that they represent the best value you will find anywhere. The quality and price ensure that status.
This is another guitar that maintains that reputation of quality that is priced sensibly. We’re about to give it a thorough review, but first, let’s consider something…
What does a beginner really need?
When a starter picks up the guitar for the first time, they need a couple of things. They need to feel the passion, and they need to feel inspired. In those difficult early days, that could well be what they need to keep going.
They will want it to look the part, and they will need people to say it sounds good. And they need it to be easy to play so they can start to get sounds from it. Maybe even some they recognize. But it also needs to be reasonably priced.
Not many manufacturers can produce an instrument that covers all the bases. They are either good but too expensive. Or they are cheaper but nearly unplayable. This might be the exception. A guitar that ticks all those boxes. So what is this guitar all about? Let’s look a little closer…
There are three guitars in the Storia range. Storia I, II, and III. We will be looking at Storia 3. Two and three are very similar and really only have a few cosmetic differences. Number one has a Spruce top rather than the mahogany of the other two. They are all the same size.
Built for beginners…
It is designed to be an entry-level acoustic-electric for new players with its slightly shorter scale length. The body weight is also marginally lighter than many starter guitars. This is the Yamaha idea of a Concert shape. It is certainly not a Parlor-style instrument. The body is slightly smaller but still maintains its depth of sound.
In fact, the sound is surprisingly powerful, with a very strong mid-range. This is helped along by the choice of woods, which we will be discussing later.
Balanced and comfortable…
The body shape is easy to hold and is nicely balanced. It is, therefore, easy to get to grips with early on. A nice comfortable neck with a well-made fingerboard gives it a nice comfortable feel.
It is an impressive design, but Yamaha has made this a bit special.
A real looker…
The choice of woods and the finish given to those woods create an instrument that is great to look at. The wood grain is emphasized through the gloss finish.
It looks like an elegant piece of furniture as much as a guitar. So, it is certainly going to impress. This guitar is the sort of thing you may leave out and not put away so people can enjoy it with you.
Let’s now take a much closer look at what this guitar is all about in our in-depth Yamaha Storia III Acoustic Guitar Review…
Returning to the tonewoods. The back and sides are made from Mahogany. Nothing particularly unusual there, you might think. You would be right. A wood commonly used for its rich sounds on the back and sides of instruments.
A solid mahogany top!
What is less common is its use as a top wood. This is the case with the Yamaha Storia III. You would normally expect to see a Spruce top, either laminated or solid. But not in this case. A solid piece of Mahogany is used as the top wood.
This will create a rich earthy sound. It doesn’t have the toppy ring a Spruce top offers. The mahogany adds warmth to the sound and a nice resonance. As a solid wood soundboard, it reacts well to the vibrations of the strings and projects a great sound.
As we mentioned earlier, the look of the guitar is impressive. This is a result of the Mahogany with its prominent grain pattern. The Satin finish allows that to show through. It is nicely complemented with an understated black binding.
The body shape is a comfortable Concert size with a 25-inch scale. There is no cutaway, which on a guitar with a smaller body size can help the depth of the sound. There is no scratchplate either, allowing the top wood to show through. The design is finished off with a tasteful white and black circular styling around the soundhole.
It has a different look to many of its contemporaries. Mainly due to the dark wood top where you expect to see a lighter colored Spruce. The lack of the scratchplate and other laid back additions add to its mystique. It certainly has an impressive look.
The neck is also made from Mahogany with a Walnut fingerboard and a Satin finish. Mahogany is a fairly standard choice for the neck and not uncommon. But the choice of Walnut for the fingerboard is interesting.
An unusual fingerboard choice…
The choice of fingerboard wood can influence the sound and certainly how a guitar plays. Fingerboard wood might not be as important as the woods used on the body. But it is going to affect it. Here’s why…
You will usually find Rosewood, or a Rosewood look-a-like, or possibly Maple or Ebony used for the fingerboard. So why Walnut?
It is known to be slightly porous, not a good idea if it is going to absorb moisture. It is also known to be softer than Maple. Again, not a good idea if it is going to have heavy usage.
Not to worry…
We must remember, this guitar is designed for a beginner or even a starter. There will be no hours of sweat and toil under lights for moisture to cause a problem.
It will not be getting hours of punishment with heavy usage. It has also been given a good finish and has the trusty truss rod. The Walnut fingerboard is going to be fine.
Sleek and slim…
It is designed in a nice comfortable slim ‘C’ shape, ideal for the starter. It has twenty frets, but as there is no cutaway, only fourteen of those are easily playable. The edges of the fingerboard are hand-rolled for a nice soft and easy to play feel.
It features dot inlays on the fingerboard with a motif at the 12th fret. The neck has a nice feel and compliments the design and the style of the body. And as it is well-designed with the nice rolled edges we mentioned, it feels easy in the hand.
Often an area where the cuts are made, as we have said in many other reviews. Here though, we are in for a nice surprise. The hardware chosen by Yamaha is both effective and will do the job well.
Up at the headstock, we have a traditional plain design. There is just the Yamaha logo on the Mahogany wood. Six open-backed machine heads have a vintage style to them. They are finished in a champagne-gold color, which is quite eye-catching. The nut is made from Urea.
On the body, a walnut hardtail bridge with a Urea saddle. The bridge pins are made from brass, an attractive feature, and certainly something you don’t see very often. In some ways, quite basic but functional hardware. But we do like the idea of vintage tuners and brass bridge pins.
As always, with an acoustic guitar, the electrics come in for discussion. The amplified sound can never replicate the acoustic sound. Manufacturers are usually not on a winner with that one.
And piezo pickups, while functional, are not the greatest thing since sliced bread. They do a job. They amplify the guitar, and that is all.
This has an under-saddle Piezo that does just that. There are no volume or tone controls on the guitar, and in our view, that is a good thing. This is because, in the majority of cases, any EQ or tone controls included with a built-in preamp are very basic. Really the only useful inclusion is a digital tuner if there is one.
Yamaha has decided to let your amp control the sound. Plug the guitar into an amp and control the tones and the volume from there. You are almost certainly going to get a better sound that way.
How does it play?
It is clearly set up to help new players. The fingerboard, as we have already discussed, plays quite nicely. It has a smooth feel to it and gives the guitar a certain playability.
The strings can be adjusted to sit quite low on the fingerboard. This also allows the student an easier ride than if the action were high. However, care needs to be applied to ensure you don’t go too low, or you will get fret buzz.
A super strummer…
From a playing style, it is certainly going to suit the strummer rather than the finger-picker. The strings are quite close together, which might make finger-picking styles a little tricky. However, young, slim fingers probably won’t experience that problem.
Generally speaking, it is a nice, easy-paced guitar to play. It is nicely balanced, and not being oversized, it is comfortable to hold. The slim ‘C’ shape neck will also help. It gets high marks for how it plays.
How does it sound?
Always a subjective issue and always down to personal preference. But we happen to think the sound is very good. Not the best we have heard from Yamaha as it does lack the sharper top end of a Spruce top. With this being Mahogany, it does lose that.
But that is a very fine critique of a guitar that delivers so much for the young or new player. Acoustically, it is nice. Rich deep sounds, which are surprising considering it is a Concert design. Usually, it is with a larger Dreadnought that you get a big sound.
The electrics are going to depend very much on the amp you use. The under-saddle passive piezo will require a decent EQ control. But many amps have that, and if you have a decent amp, you will get a nice sound.
What do we think?
If you know your way around guitars, you will already know that Yamaha makes great guitars at all levels. This guitar is no exception. But let us make one aspect very clear.
You will hear the term ‘beginners’ guitar used many times. In some cases, people choose to automatically think that means cheap. To some, ‘cheap’ automatically means badly made and no good. In some cases, that is true. But remember that a badly made guitar is hard to play and won’t help a starter.
That does not apply to Yamaha and certainly not to this instrument. It is made at a Yamaha factory in China, and the quality of the build cannot be faulted. So let us briefly sum up.
Yamaha Storia III Acoustic Guitar Review Pros and Cons
- Well-made with good materials.
- Well-fitted out with good hardware.
- Easy to play and ideal for a starter or someone looking to improve.
- It does lack the sharper top end of a Spruce soundboard.
- Some might think it expensive.
Looking for Something Else?
Need more guitar options? Check out all of our in-depth reviews of the Best Acoustic Guitars Under $200, the Best Acoustic Guitars Under $300, the Best Acoustic Guitars Under $500, and the Best Acoustic Guitars Under $600 you can buy.
Yamaha Storia III Acoustic Guitar Review Final Thoughts
This is a typical Yamaha guitar. Well-made with good materials. It sounds good and plays easily, and is ideal for a young player. At the price point, some may rule it out as it is not the cheapest. But even at that price, it is still excellent value.
As we said at the beginning, young and new players need to feel inspired. To feel the passion. This Yamaha Storia III Acoustic Guitar gives them both in abundance, which makes it a superb buy, in our opinion.
Until our next review, may your music always be merry.